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STARTING POINT WITH SOLEDAD O'BRIEN

Knox Now Faces Re-Trial in Italy; Supreme Court Reviews Sex- Same Marriage; Interview with Gavin Newsom; Courtroom Confrontation

Aired March 26, 2013 - 08:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A developing story, North Korea saying it is getting ready for combat ready positions, ready to attack the U.S. and its interest. We're live just outside North Korea with the details.

And the defense wants him to keep Jodi arias off death row. But is the psychologist in that murder case too close to be trusted?

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: How much money is spent in that case, so far? It is amazing. We're going to talk about that and much more.

It's Tuesday, March 26th. And STARTING POINT begins right now.

(MUSIC)

O'BRIEN: Welcome, everybody.

Our team this morning: Richard Socarides is back, former senior adviser to President Clinton. He's now a writer for NewYorker.com.

Christopher John Farley, a former classmate of mine many, many years ago. Also the director --

CHRISTOPHER JOHN FARLEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Not that long.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Uh-huh?

Editorial director of digital features at "The Wall Street Journal" and editor of their "Speakeasy" blog.

And Gloria Rueben is with. She's an actress and philanthropist.

Where do you focus your philanthropy?

GLORIA REUBEN, ACTRESS AND PHILANTROPHIST: Climate change.

O'BRIEN: Oh, interesting.

REUBEN: Yes.

O'BRIEN: We'll talk about that.

OK. Some stunning new developments to get to this morning. Coming to us out of Rome.

Italy Supreme Court rules that American Amanda Knox must stand trial again for the death of her former roommate Meredith Kercher. Knox spent four years in prison before an appeals court threw out that murder conviction. That was just in 2011.

So, now, the judges have overturned the acquittal both of Knox and her then-boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito.

Just moments ago, Knox released a statement and the statement says in part this, "It was painful to receive the news that the Italian Supreme Court decided to send my case back for revision when the prosecutor's theory of my involvement in Meredith's murder has been repeatedly revealed to be completely unfounded and unfair. I believe that any question as to my innocence must be examined by an objective investigation and a capable prosecution."

A little bit earlier their morning, I spoke with Knox's attorney. His name is Ted Simon. And here's what he told me about this ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TED SIMON, AMANDA KNOX'S ATTORNEY: There's no reason to believe that any further review will result any differently. Keep in mind, there was no physical evidence against her. And anything that was reviewed was considered unreliable, inaccurate, insubstantial. In the bigger picture, these charges still remain just as unfounded, just as unjust as they were before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Let's get right to Ben Wedeman. He's in Rome for us with more on this case.

Ben, good morning.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Good morning.

Well, that decision came out at exactly one minute after 10:00 in the morning, and a lot of shock. We'd heard many of the lawyers for both Amanda Knox, excuse me, and Raffaele Sollecito, her former Italian boyfriend, on Monday morning when they went into court, saying that they expected the acquittal would be upheld.

Afterward, we spoke to Carlo Dalla Vedova, who is one of Amanda Knox's lawyers. And this is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CARLO DALLA VEDOVA, AMANDA KNOX'S LAWYER: I don't think she will come back. First of all, she is a very young girl and she's looking to have to her life. This has a psychological impact on her. So, she can come, of course. She's a free person, there's no limitation (INAUDIBLE). But for the time being, I think she is looking forward to have her life back in Seattle. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WEDEMAN: She is a free person now, but eventually when this retrial takes place, she may be requested to appear in an Italian court. However, the United States has to receive an extradition request from the Italian government. And in the past, the U.S. has turned down some of those requests -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Ben Wedeman for us this morning -- thank you, Ben.

You want to be sure to stay with CNN for the latest on this story. On Friday night, you're going to be able to watch Anderson Cooper's special report. It's called "Murder Abroad: The Amanda Knox Story". It will air at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

This is crazy, huh?

RICHARD SOCARIDES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean, what's shocking about this, right, is we thought this was over, right? She was acquitted. In our system of justice here in justice, you wouldn't be acquitted and then un-acquitted. I mean, you know, once you're --

O'BRIEN: She was convicted and then acquitted and that seemed like the end I think for Americans.

SOCARIDES: Right. And because that's what would happen under our system of justice. It's is very rare, almost unheard of, that you would be retried for something you were acquitted on.

But -- so, this is shocking. It's really shocking. She's not going back. I mean, that's for sure.

REUBEN: First of all, everything is different Italy, right?

SOCARIDES: They do have a beautiful country, though.

REUBEN: And great wine and handsome men, which is also very handy and helpful. Well, I must say.

O'BRIEN: But we diverge.

REUBEN: But, you know, whether she is supposed to show up, whether her presence is requested or whether she's legally bound to show up or not -- clearly, if she's not supposed to be there or not requested, she's not going to go. I mean, nor would I even step back into the country, whether she -- no matter what happens with this, even for vacation or anything.

Plenty of other great places to see in the world, plenty of other good food and wine and nice men to visit.

O'BRIEN: Right. We'll have to imagine her lawyers will have her nowhere near Italy while this is ongoing.

FARLEY: Would it help? I mean, that's the question. I mean, if a request comes in that they want her back Italy, would it help her case to be there physically present?

O'BRIEN: But the prosecution has been so odd. I mean, following this case since, what was it, 2007, originally through the 2011 acquittal, if you look at it a lot of the things that they point out as mistakes and errors on the part of the prosecution. Even if it might help your case, I think it's such a crapshoot to some degree.

If you were an attorney, why would you -- you know, Ted Simon wouldn't say it as her U.S. attorney, because obviously he's not in a position to say he's not going to extradite her, but you would have to imagine would you be crazy to do that.

Another court battle we're following this morning I want to talk about this as well. The Supreme Court, of course, set to hear arguments on same-sex marriage for days now. People have been rallying outside the high court in anticipation of the day's arguments over Prop 8, which is California's ban on same-sex marriage. Tomorrow, the justices will hear arguments about DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act.

So, ahead of the DOMA arguments, some senators are publicly announcing it. "The Huffington Post" is reporting that Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia and fellow Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri have voiced their support for same-sex marriage. That happened yesterday. And Democratic Senators Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, Tim Johnson of South Dakota announced they no longer support DOMA. Both, you'll remember, supported it back when it was law back in 1996.

I want to get -- before we get to the controversy over it, let's chat with the panel for a moment.

So, this is something you have been working toward for years. So, on both fronts that are now before the Supreme Court today with same-sex marriage, tomorrow with DOMA.

SOCARIDES: Right. And it's interesting that those senators are announcing on the eve of the argument, because if you were in the process of evolving, if you have evolved like many Americans have, today is the day to announce it, right? Because there's some sense that after today, you know, it's going to be in the Supreme Court hands and people want to get on record.

But it's a big day. I mean, the Supreme Court -- it's big argument for the Supreme Court, probably the most important -- certainly the most important set of cases they're going to have this term, maybe in the last couple of years, as big as health care. There's a lot of interest in it.

And it could really change things. I mean, the Supreme Court could rule that there's a right to same-sex marriage in all 50 states or they could rule more narrowly.

O'BRIEN: When Senator Portman says, listen, my son is gay and now, I have decided that I actually support gay marriage -- does that frustrate you as someone who has been sort of working toward acceptance of gay marriage over the last whatever number of years it's been a number? Because, you know, I think some people look at it as -- well, now that it affects you and your family, suddenly you are really interested in thinking about this issue. When it was not you, not your family, it didn't think it was something that was particularly interesting.

SOCARIDES: It doesn't bother me at all. I think everybody is entitled to their evolution on this. I think that all Americans have had a journey on this. I think that with Senator Portman --

O'BRIEN: Not all. I think if you look at the polls, not all.

SOCARIDES: Nobody started out there, I mean, right? People have to warm up to it, get used to it.

O'BRIEN: Forty-seven percent of people in the country are not there at all.

SOCARIDES: But I think what's -- you know, the experience that Senator Portman and his family and his son and his entire family had is very similar to what other American families have gone through, as children, and neighbors, coworkers have come out, and been open and honest about sexual orientation.

So I think their willingness to share their experience with us, the Portman family, was very brave, and so, I salute him and his entire family.

O'BRIEN: I just want to bring in Gavin Newsom. He's lieutenant governor of California. He was way back in 2004 when I was covering him as a reporter, he was the mayor of San Francisco and he told the San Francisco clerk to give wedding licenses to same-sex couples. That was a big controversy way back then.

It's nice to have you with us.

GAVIN NEWSOM, CALIFORNIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: Good to be here, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: Lieutenant Governor, pleasure to see.

So, what -- so you're going to be in court. You're in D.C., I should mention.

NEWSOM: Yes.

O'BRIEN: What are you listening for to hear, not so much in the presentations by the attorneys, but to the kinds of questions that the justices ask? What things will be red flags for you?

NEWSOM: Well, I think it goes to Richard's point, you know, which off-ramp to the court does the court take? Is it just a narrow decision? Is it a decision as simple as standing?

Is it rejected on standing base, or do we get to the issue of this, what we call eight or nine-state solution? Which is a hybrid or middle ground related to the issue of civil unions and those now nine states if you include Colorado last week that fall into that category?

Or as I hope and as Richard asserted, that we ultimately adjudicate as we should, as it relates to Equal Protection Clause in the 14th Amendment, and set aside this issue in the context of a 50-state solution and move on to other issues.

O'BRIEN: So, let's say, because you're talking about the three pathways. And, actually, I have a graphic for those who don't know the case as well. I'll walk through it one more time.

So, sort of pathway number one could be that the Supreme Court says you can't withdraw a right once it's established. That would be that narrow decision you talked about.

Pathway number two would be, you can't have a civil union without marriage and that would highlight those eight, now nine states, if count Colorado from last week.

Pathway number three would be the one that I think you would most support, which is the all same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional.

So, what happens if pathway one or pathway two are picked? Would that not be a victory for you?

NEWSOM: Yes, certainly a victory. It's certainly a victory for people in California and a victory for this long fight that we've had in California post-Proposition 8. Remember, in November of 2008, after we had already legally sanctions the California Supreme Court in May 2008, legally sanctioned same-sex marriage, about 18,000 couples legally got married, only to see those rights taken away on Election Day, the same election that President Obama was elected.

So, the question of that issue is very similar to the issue that Romer in the Colorado decision that Justice Kennedy adjudicated and wrote the majority opinion.

And so, back to your previous question, Soledad, what am I listening to? It will be Justice Kennedy and his questioning and whether or not the arguments, and I imagine the arguments that Ted Olson will be making will very in line with the Romer decision, whether or not they're persuasive and whether or not Kennedy's questioning suggests the persuasive nature of those arguments.

SOCARIDES: Well, you know, when you were mayor of San Francisco, you know, many people believe you started all of this by marrying people. Could you have ever imagined back in 2004 when you told the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples that we would be here today?

NEWSOM: Yes, not a chance. I mean, I'd love to say that I did, you know? But I thought in my lifetime maybe. But the idea of well within the decade, we've seen the kind of progress we've seen. We've seen the courage of people currently in elected office. It's always easy when you're out of office to stand on principle and say you support marriage equality. But I subscribe, Richard, to your point of view, I can't criticize anyone, particularly Senator Portman, that stands up and does the right thing, regardless of how they got to that decision. I think it's courageous, nonetheless.

You know, it is interesting to see everyone jumping over, wait, you didn't ask me the question. I support marriage equality as well -- trying to get ahead of the decision as it relates to the Supreme Court.

So, we're making great progress. But regardless of what happens today and tomorrow with the DOMA and the adjudication in June, we've still got a lot of work to do, because a lot of people, regardless of court decisions, still aren't there and still I don't think fundamentally yet appreciate the civil right, and the human right, and the human element associated with marriage equality.

O'BRIEN: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom with us this morning from the state of California -- nice to see you.

He hasn't aged a bit since I covered him back in 2004. My goodness. My goodness.

Nice to see you, Lieutenant Governor. Thank you.

NEWSOM: Thanks, Soledad.

O'BRIEN: All right. Other stories making news. And Christine has got that.

ROMANS: Thank you.

Top story developing out of North Korea right now. North Korea is planning to place military units on combat-ready status for possible strikes against American military units in the Pacific. North Korea is angry over tougher U.N. sanctions and joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea. U.S. Defense Department this morning issuing what has become its standard response, saying, quote, "The U.S. is fully capable of defending ourselves and our allies against an attack by the DPRK. We are firmly committed to defending the Republic of Korea and Japan."

A developing story this morning. We're watching Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota is expected to announce his retirement today. If Johnson confirms that he is not running, he will be the fifth Senate Democrat to announce retirement in 2014.

Tim Johnson was first elected to the Senate in 1995. He has served three terms. He survived a near fatal brain hemorrhage in 2006 and went on to win re-election in 2008.

The streak continues. The Miami Heat now has won 27 straight games after cruising past the Orlando Magic last night, 108-94. The Heat closing in on NBA history, now just six wins away from the league record for consecutive wins, held by the 1971-'72 L.A. Lakers who won, in case you are wondering, 33 straight. O'BRIEN: I'm sorry. Didn't I predict this way back when?

ROMANS: Did you?

O'BRIEN: I did actually. Remember when everybody was giving LeBron James a really hard time about going to the Miami Heat and they had a little bit of a tough time getting going, I was the one.

FARLEY: The Knicks is going to stop this streak. I think it's going to happen. I think that --

O'BRIEN: You think the Knicks is going to stop this?

FARLEY: The Knicks can stop them. The Knicks will stop before they get to 33. They have a game scheduled, Carmelo Anthony, I think, I think he'll see this as a way.

O'BRIEN: What day is that?

FARLEY: I don't know what day it is. But I think it's game number 31 on the streak, 30 or 31.

O'BRIEN: We look that up, because I'm going to a game.

(CROSSTALK)

ROMANS: They play the Bulls too.

FARLEY: The Bulls and the Spurs also have a chance.

O'BRIEN: God, I don't know what to do, the Knicks, I'm a New Yorker.

REUBEN: I have to root for the Knicks.

FARLEY: There's a long way to go before the streak is over. They've got to defeat the Spurs. They've got to beat the Knicks. They've got to beat the Bulls before they get to 33. So, there's a long way to go before this happens.

O'BRIEN: I'll put a wager on it. Where are you on this? Come on, Gloria, putting money on it?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Deal. I'll take that. I'll take that.

Still ahead this morning on STARTING POINT, he is the guy who might actually keep Jodi Arias off death row, but is the psychologist in the case too close to Arias to be trusted to be impartial? We have a live report on that straight ahead.

And then, the star of "Treme" is using his star power to help folks in New Orleans. Actor, Wendell Pierce, is going to join us to talk about his new supermarket chain. You're watching STARTING POINT. We're back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching STARTING POINT.

The Jodi Arias murder trial, believe it or not, we're still talking about this. It's in its final phase. The last defense witness finally taking the stand. On Monday, a crucial witness for Arias' PTSD defense faced a brutal cross-examination. CNNs Miguel Marquez was there for the courtroom confrontation. He's in Phoenix this morning.

This trial has been going on for a really long time, but now, they're really coming down to what could or may not keep her from being executed in prison?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes. This is -- it is getting very serious in there. Confrontation is -- you could actually hear gasps in that courtroom at certain points yesterday as the prosecutor was taking on this key defense witness.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JUAN MARTINEZ, PROSECUTOR: She met that criteria. And you can bang on it all you want, and it's still your judgment, isn't it?

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Aggressive cross examination. Prosecutor, Juan Martinez, hammering away at the credibility of a key defense expert psychologist, Richard Samuels (ph).

MARTINEZ: Right. You wouldn't see that that way because you have feelings for the defendant, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I beg your pardon, sir.

MARQUEZ: Martinez all but taunting the witness, telegraphing to the jury the idea that Samuels cannot be trusted, that he's too close to Jodi Arias.

MARTINEZ: Isn't it true that in this case, you lost your objectivity?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not.

MARQUEZ: Samuels' testimony critical in explaining Jodi Arias' 18 days of testimony and keeping the 32-year-old off death row for killing her on again-off again boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in 2008.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Samuels is a critical witness for the defense, because if jurors believe Dr. Samuels, then Jodi Arias really doesn't remember the details of the killing.

MARQUEZ: The trial going nearly three months now is attracting snowbirds like Steve Pinto (ph) from New Jersey. He's been watching on TV since day one. Today's his first day in court. He lined up at 4:00 a.m. Why? What has hooked you into it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because she looks so innocent, but the crime that she made is very, very fierce, that which she's done.

MARQUEZ: But you don't believe she's innocent, though?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no, definitely not.

MARQUEZ: The trial now entering its final phase. The level of interest here only growing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ (on-camera): Now, we expect this domestic violence experts to testify the rest of this week and probably into next week. And then, the next couple of weeks, we expect that we'll hear closing arguments, and then it goes to the jury. We are reaching the end. Three months on April 2nd will be three months for this trial -- Soledad.

O'BRIEN: And it feels like it has gone on forever. Miguel Marquez for us. Thanks for that. Appreciate it.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Thanks a lot.

MARQUEZ: Got it.

O'BRIEN: Still ahead on STARTING POINT, so, who would mess with Walter Right? A report -- a script from one of the final episodes of "Breaking Bad" has been stolen. It's what's trending next. We'll tell you what's happening.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Here's a look at what's trending this morning. "Django Unchained," we're learning that Jamie Foxx wasn't necessarily Quentin Tarantino's first choice for "Django Unchained." Will Smith tells "Entertainment Weekly" that he turned down the part because the Django character was second fiddle to the bounty hunter which is played by Christoph Waltz. And Smith says I need to be in the lead.

FARLEY: I thought it's fascinating because you watch the movie, and it's about (ph) the movie that Christoph Waltz clearly is emotional center of that movie. He's the one who got the Oscar nomination, not Jamie Foxx.

And so, I think that Will Smith really gave voice to a lot of the concerned people had seen this movie, which again, and it was an Oscar nominated movie. Oscar-winning movie with Christoph Waltz, but, you know, Jamie Foxx was not the center of that movie emotionally, I thought. I mean --

REUBEN: True. Something, though, when you see a film after, you know, obviously after it's been made and it's been in the theaters, et cetera. And it's heart to kind of imagine somebody else doing the part that you've already seen. Do you know what I mean? It kind of -- I can't really quite -- and I love Will Smith. He's a very talented man. I can't quite put his face in there now.

O'BRIEN: I see Jamie Foxx in the role. I thought he did a great job.

(CROSSTALK)

FARLEY: He did a great job. No one questions he did a great job. I just find it interesting that Will Smith is thinking like a star and thinking, if I'm going to be in that movie, I've got to be the center of gravity (ph).

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: That's right. That's why we're talking (ph) it down.

Spoiler alert --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: One of the upcoming episodes of-- the final episodes of "Breaking Bad" has been stolen from the car of the show's star, Brian Cranston. New Mexico police say Cranston first reported the threat of theft of the script earlier this month. Suspect was arrested over the weekend after reportedly bragging about it in an Albuquerque bar.

Police say the script has not yet been recovered. The show returns this summer for the final episode, the final eight episodes. How big of a deal is this?

REUBEN: You know what, people really need to find something to do.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Right. What would happen if you -- OK, well, you -- if someone had stolen your script out of your car.

REUBEN: Right. Well, there would not be -- you know --

(CROSSTALK)

REUBEN: Exactly. And that's the thing about these fantastic, scripted shows. These shows that have been on for a while, and the audience is really captivated. It's so -- every week, you don't know what's going to happen. There are a number of shows like that that I love that are similar to "Breaking Bad."

It would be devastating, you know, because once the secret is out, it's out. I mean, everything that do you now days, you have to sign a nondisclosure agreement. I can't even talk about it with the male salon or something. I can't -- you know, they'll hunt me down and lock me away.

(CROSSTALK)

REUBEN: But yes, it's really -- it's a frustrating thing.

O'BRIEN: You just made me feel terrible for Bryan Cranston now.

REUBEN: I mean, just don't leave -- put everything on your iPad, don't leave the paper anywhere and make sure your iPad --

(CROSSTALK)

O'BRIEN: Mine, too, because I'm paranoid.

Still ahead on STARTING POINT --

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: -- they're not even on the market yet and already one state is trying to keep drivers from using Google glasses. I've been trying to get a pair of these to try them out. We're going to tell you where that's happening.

And then, Jerry Sandusky, convicted child rapist, making very strong denials from behind bars. We're going to talk with Jeffrey Fritz. He's an attorney to a young man known as victim number four. That's ahead on STARTING POINT.

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